Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Five years on from the 7/7 London bombings

I will never forget the events of July 7th 2005 in London. Today is the fifth anniversary of the bomb attacks on morning rush hour travellers that led to the biggest single loss of life in the capital since the Blitz.
Hundreds were injured and it is still difficult to comprehend that among the 56 dead, four suicide bombers were British Muslims. Tony Blair should have held a detailed public inquiry into the roots of the outrage. But then he might have been forced to admit that the UK’s foreign policy played a part in the radicalising of the terrorists.
I was at home on a week’s break when I heard the first radio news bulletin. My children were away at university so I knew they would be safe.
With transport shutdown or gridlocked, there would be no way I could reach my office. I established as best I could by phone that my co-workers were unharmed. It was then time to answer my newspaper’s news desk request for an opinion piece on what effect the terror attack would have on the City of London.
I knew that the emergency services would work superbly and that the very best qualities of Londoners could be relied on – bravery, a refusal to panic, and, as for the Square Mile it would be business as usual just as soon as it was possible.
I had seen it with the IRA bomb attacks on the capital decades before, Londoners would be equal to the challenge.
I won’t pretend that immediately after the 7/7 attacks there wasn’t the nervousness that contributed to the police tragically shooting Jean Charles de Menezes two weeks later.
But in the same way that Londoners quickly learned that an Irish accent didn’t equate with support for the IRA, I believe the majority of the capital’s population soon came to realise that the extremists had scant support among British Muslims.
It was a mistake by the Coalition government not to have held a formal ceremony at the 7/7 memorial in Hyde Park today when all this could have been said by a combination of political and community leaders.

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